Not as many folks as usual will be watching the Pittsburgh Pirates play Saturday night, as the Pittsburgh Penguins’ playoff game across town will garner the majority of regional eyeballs.
However, those who do check out the Bucs as they host the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park will notice a couple new faces in black and gold. As announced by the Pirates this afternoon, newly-acquired Ike Davis will start at first base and bat sixth, while catcher Chris Stewart has been activated from the disabled list.
These additions have consequences, however, since room had to be made on the 25-man roster to welcome Davis and Stewart to the club. As expected, the Pirates designated first baseman Travis Ishikawa for assignment and sent catcher Tony Sanchez down to Triple-A Indianapolis to alleviate the surplus.
Ishikawa surprisingly made the Pirates’ Opening Day roster after getting a non-roster invitation to spring training, but his playing time began to dwindle over the past week with Gaby Sanchez starting to produce at a higher level. The Pirates have 10 days to decide what to do with the 30-year-old Ishikawa; options include a trade, waivers or outright release.
As for the 25-year-old Sanchez, he was targeted to start the year in the minors before Stewart sustained a knee injury in March. Although Sanchez has hit .333 in six games this season, the Pirates want him to get more regular playing time than he would receive while backing up Russell Martin in the big leagues.
Martin will start again Saturday night as the Pirates try to take the third of a four-game home set with the Brewers. Davis will slot between new No. 5 hitter Jose Tabata and Neil Walker in the initial batting order. Wandy Rodriguez will look to get on track this season against Milwaukee starter Matt Garza.
Because Game 2 of the Penguins-Blue Jackets series is on Root Sports Pittsburgh, the Pirates-Brewers matchup will be broadcast locally on MLB Network.